Another Obama Policy Failure: Canada Approves New Oil Pipeline to Pacific Coast

Canada conflict oilTranscanadaPresident Hamlet, I mean, Obama has been dithering for years over the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport nearly 1 million barrels of Canadian oilsands petroleum from Alberta to American refineries on the Gulf Coast. Several State Department environmental analyses have found that the pipeline is sufficiently safe and would have only a minor effect on the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to man-made global warming. Nevertheless, the president has decisively decided not to decide as he tries to avoid alienating either labor unions who favor construction of the pipeline or green activists who don't.

Since 97 percent of Canada's oil exports now go to the U.S., environmental activists fondly hoped that blocking U.S. approval of the Keystone pipeline would force Canadian oil companies to keep the oilsands crude in the ground. Fat chance. Today, the Associated Press is reporting that the Canadian government has approved a new pipeline that will transport more than 500,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the Canadian west coast. That oil will be loaded onto 220 tankers per year and shipped to China.

From the AP:

Canada's government on Tuesday approved a controversial pipeline proposal that would bring oil to the Pacific Coast for shipment to Asia, a major step in the country's efforts to diversify its oil exports if it can overcome fierce opposition from environmental and aboriginal groups.

Approval for Enbridge's Northern Gateway project was expected as Canada needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. The project's importance has only grown since the U.S. delayed a decision on TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline that would take oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The northern Alberta region has the world's third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

Enbridge's pipeline would transport 525,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta's oil sands to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, mainly energy-hungry China. About 220 large oil tankers a year would visit the Pacific coast town of Kitimat and opponents fear pipeline leaks and a potential tanker spill on the pristine Pacific coast.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada's national interest makes the pipelines essential.

Way to go Mr. President!

For more background, see my article, "Obama's Devious Dithering Over the Keystone Pipeline."

Disclosure: Back in 2011, I went on a junket to report on the development of Alberta oil sands. My travel expenses were covered by the American Petroleum Institute. The API did not ask for nor did it have any editorial control over my reporting of this trip or, for that matter, any other reporting that I do. For more background, see my articles, "The Man-Made Miracle of Oil from Sand," and "Conflict Oil or Canadian Oil?"

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  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    Canada wants to be a sovereign nation, and not a US National Park? The nerve.

  • Hyperion||

    Bomb Canada, they're terrorists!

  • Mike M.||

    It's not a "failure"; he's doing this on purpose, dummy.

  • wareagle||

    yup...people persist on being stuck in the mode of Obama's getting bad advice or something else that supports the narrative of mere incompetence. No, it's malevolence. Everything this man does or wants to do runs counter to what sane individuals would consider.

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    None of this would have happened if Stalin Obama knew. They're keeping the newspapers from him.

  • Hyperion||

    Obama knows that he is going down in history as a failed president. So the best he can hope for is to gain some type of legacy as a hero of the progressive left. That's very scary when you think about it, a guy who has nothing to lose and everything to gain who won't think twice about doing things that are very damaging to the country as long as it will gain him some notoriety on the left. This has already started to happen with the climate change non-sense.

    We should be hoping right now that the GOP takes over the Senate this fall. No, they will not do anything to reverse any of the damage that Obama has done, but they may at least be able to hold his insanity to a minimum amount of damage.

  • The Last American Hero||

    And yet we will still see a statue of him on the Washington Mall one day. That gives me a sad.

  • wareagle||

    takes you back to fundamental transformation. Unless you are the worst kind of statist fuck, there is no way to make chicken salad of that phrase.

  • John||

    You hope for a GOP takeover because it might bring the rest of the Democratic Party to its sense. Obama might not give a fuck about what happens after he leaves office, but the rest of the Democratic Party certainly does. You have to hope that they lose big so that they abandon Obama out of a sense of self preservation. The GOP alone will not stop him. It will take the Democrats turning on him. And that will only happen if electoral reality forces them to.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sadly, he's not the only problem. He's a machine guy elevated by a party that wanted him to do what he did. Look at how the ACA got passed, Reid changing old Senate rules, no one protesting as the president rules by fiat, etc. It's a party that's coming to openly embrace many socialist and fascist tactics and principles.

  • John||

    True. But they only embraced them because they thought they could get away with doing so. Let them start losing elections and look at being totally out of power and suddenly they will find embracing those tactics not such a good idea.

  • John||

    What difference does it make? Seriously, I am not sure how saying "Obama is just stupid and in over his head and doing the same things he would be doing if he were secretly out to destroy the country" really saves Obama.

  • ImanAzol||

    Because this is all Bush's fault and you're a racist.

  • ||

    The most transparently incompetent administration in history.

  • John||

    Are they really so fucking stupid they didn't think the Canadians would just build their own pipeline?

    Or is it they are animist and just didn't want an dirty object like oil touching American soil?

    These assholes cost this country billions of dollars and thousands of people jobs with this decision. And it is not even going to accomplish their goal of stopping the evil oil production (thank God).

    We need a new word for these people. Words like incompetent or even retarded are not strong enough.

  • ||

    No, they didn't care if the Canadians built their own pipeline. Remember, the only thing Obama does is trade favors for political gain. He was blocking this for the favor of certain interests. If the Canadians go ahead and build one anyway, it doesn't matter; he held up his end of the bargain and they owe him their votes or campaign contributions or whatever. That's all that matters to him.

  • John||

    Yup. I thought about it and came to the same conclusion below. If doing something doesn't involve stealing for his supporters or himself, Obama doesn't give a fuck and isn't doing it.

  • Hyperion||

    This. Obama is seeking fame as a hero of the left, he doesn't give a shit about the economy of the US, not that he ever did to begin with.

  • John||

    At this point I think he realizes everyone but the billionaire environmental left either already hates his guts or is starting too. He never liked the country much to begin with and really doesn't like it now that he feels it has failed him as President. All he cares about at this point is having a place to land and a cadre of admirers to kiss his ass and pay him big money to give speeches and support his political organization once he leaves office.

    It will no doubt work out well for Obama. It won't work out well for the country and probably not for the Democratic Party either.

  • sarcasmic||

    This. Obama is seeking fame as a hero of the left, he doesn't give a shit about the economy of the US, not that he ever did to begin with.

    He is ashamed of American exceptionalism and is doing his damnedest to take us down a notch.

    Leftists don't help the poor by raising them up. They make the poor feel better about themselves by taking down the rich.

  • ||

    The left doesn't give a flying fuck about the poor. They just want a cudgel to beat the right with.

  • wareagle||

    These assholes cost this country billions of dollars and thousands of people jobs with this decision.

    it is a stronger case to say that's the point than to put out any other reason.

  • John||

    Now that I think about it, it is not even incompetence. It is that Obama sees the world as a zero sum game between his supporters and his enemies. This pipeline didn't benefit his supporters, so he wasn't going to approve it no matter what. It doesn't matter that it hurts the country at large because Obama doesn't give a shit. All that matters is does something help his supporters and harm his enemies. If it doesn't help his supporters he is not going to do it no matter how transparently good the action may be.

  • wareagle||

    his labor supporters wanted it. Guess they're not as deep-pocketed at the Tom Steyer enviro wing.

  • PapayaSF||

    They are also not as hip. Just blue collar white guys. They probably watch NASCAR and don't like same-sex marriage.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Bitter clingers!

  • ||

    They might even own...GUNS!

  • Drake||

    I thought it was Warren Buffer who really didn't want the competition for his cho-chos.

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    Our environmentalist President wants oil going to dirtier plants in China instead of cleaner ones here.

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    Why regulate US plants and then move usage to plants outside your jurisdiction?

  • PapayaSF||

    WE MUST DO SOMETHING!! Do you want the Earth to die??

  • Doctor Whom||

    Nothing happens without the blessing of the omnipresent U.S. Government. Therefore, U.S. laws are magic, not only within this country, but also worldwide. This is what a lot of statists actually believe.

  • JWatts||

    And there's the obvious fact that you have to burn far, far more oil to ship it across the Pacific than to pipe it into the US.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    It was always going to be shipped.

    There's already pipelines from Alberta to US refineries in the midwest. They weren't trying to build a pipeline to a gulf coast port because they wanted to sell it domestically.

  • CatoTheElder||

    China actually has some very good refineries, so that's not necessarily an environmental problem. However, it takes significant energy and other resources ship to China when there is demand in North America. The North American demand that would have been supplied from Alberta must then be imported from Nigeria or the ME.

    Not only does shipping to China cost energy and other resources. It effectively doubles the risk of spills when onloading/offloading vessels and in transit.

    But I suppose the enviros can feel good that they stopped that nasty synthetic crude extracted from tar sands from entering the US.

  • Sevo||

    ..."Obama has been dithering for years"...

    Hey, they've counted votes and can't find a 10-vote difference one way or the other, so you expect him to actually make a decision?!

  • Paul.||

    Can we please get back to talking about campus rape?

  • Pro Libertate||

    So much ghafla, all while the world is burning.

  • Swiss Servator, CH yeah!||

    Highlight of my time in Iraq - getting to use the phrase "Kull wahad!" to the command and staff of an Iraqi Army division. They liked that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's what we should've done--had them read Arabic translations of Dune, then tell them that they are Fremen, a secret elite.

  • ImanAzol||

    Rape apologist.

  • PRX||

    and would have only a minor effect on the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to man-made global warming.

    how is moving oil through a pipeline vs. trains and ships going to have any effect other than reducing emissions?

  • JWatts||

    The question you asked requires logic and critical thinking.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's oil! From tar sands! That's bad! I mean, it's from tar sands and it's oil! What else do you need to know!

  • ||

    Of course, that statement is also loaded with the idea that global warming is man-made so take that for what you will.

  • See Double You||

    Goddamn Canada, destroying life on earth.

    /Tony

  • Almanian!||

    What difference - at this point - does it make?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Ha! What a bluff. This "approval" means nothing.

    Northern Gateway pipeline approved with 209 conditions

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politic.....-1.2678285

    You Peanuts are all geeked up about nothing.

  • Mike M.||

    Go kill yourself Weigel.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Mulcair said Conservative MPs from British Columbia are "hiding under their desks right now" because the pipeline is already an election issue in the province.

    Nathan Cullen, the NDP's finance critic and an MP who represents an area the pipeline would traverse, said the approval is "an arrogant, Ottawa-based" decision.

    "Conservative MPs know that. They will be held to account for this," Cullen said.

    Hilarious. This fucking thing is DOA.

  • Shmenge||

    NDP cant do shit to stop this, given the conservatives have a majority.

    BC's opposition boils down to 'more money'.

  • John||

    So the best you have to defend Obama is that the Canadians might be as stupid as he is. Wow, you really are retarded.

  • ||

    BOOOOOOOSSSSSHHHHH!!!1!!

  • Adam330||

    So what? Approval of any project of any size is subject to loads of conditions. That's the nature of environmental review and regulation. The conditions are likely get permit x, y, and z, compensate parties c and d, include certain safety features, etc.

  • ||

    There is plenty of time for keystone. Large and somewhat effective environmental movement in BC and Kitimat BC port town does not want it. Federal-Native relations are very poor, particularly with the current government. They block railway lines when they are not getting enough attention when nothing is really happening, so a pipeline is a dream come true for Native protesters.

    The government has done nothing to foster support for this line and left it up to Enbrige to make nice and get everyone to so OK, lol....

  • See Double You||

    I do believe that the pipeline owners should bear the legal costs associated with the risks. Also, there shouldn't be any ED'ing of others property.

    If those demands make the pipeline infeasible, then so be it.

  • db||

    Pacific Coast Pipeline? Get Smash Mouth's agent on the.phone, stat!

  • Fluffy||

    Shrike's reaction in this thread pretty much proves that YES, the progs do in fact think that if they can just stop Keystone the Canadians will let that oil just sit in the ground.

    "Aw, shucks. They foiled us, eh?" - that's what they DO IN FACT think the Canadians will say.

    This despite the utter absence of any evidence anywhere in history at any time whatsoever that such a thing might happen.

    "Nuh-uh!" says Shrike. "There's all, these, um, conditions! Nuh-uh! Canada doesn't want to sell any oil! They want to just let that oil sit in the ground and not get any of that dirty, stinky MONEY! 'Cause Canada is all, like, PURE and shit!" - Actual Shrinke Quote

  • Stormy Dragon||

    That oil will be loaded onto 220 tankers per year and shipped to China.

    I'm Ronald Bailey, and I have no idea what the word "fungible" means.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Apparently, neither do the pipeline's opponents.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Yes, but the "see, all that oil is now going to China when it could have been ours!" line some seem to be taking to this doesn't reflect how commodity markets actually work.

  • ||

    Um, context? This precedes his mentioning China:

    ...environmental activists fondly hoped that blocking U.S. approval of the Keystone pipeline would force Canadian oil companies to keep the oilsands crude in the ground. Fat chance.
  • Invisible Finger||

    Nevertheless, the president has decisively decided not to decide

    Based on the asshole's voting record in Congress, this shouldn't surprise anyone.

    The man refuses to do anything unless it is certain to cause economic damage. Since the pipeline has a chance to help the economy, his official position is to hope it goes away.

  • SusanM||

    I've been looking into this trying to find out if tar sand oil is a valuable source of gasoline. "No" seems to be the answer but I don't know enough to interpret the information I find. Does anyone have a link to answer this?

  • db||

    I imagine it will be less useful.for.gasoline than for the heavy heating oils.

  • Zeb||

    The enviromentals have their heads up their asses on this (assuming that their intentions are what they say they are and that they think things though, which is debatable, I suppose). The west coast pipeline would be way worse environmentally. Running a pipeline through a mostly flat, geologically stable area to already established refineries and other infrastructure seems like a much better plan from an environmental standpoint than running a pipeline over mountains and through an earthquake prone area to a relatively undeveloped coastal area. It is just idiotic to think that any oil that can be cost-effectively extracted will be left in the ground.

  • John B. Egan||

    So what if it does go to China? Wee already import enormous amounts of Canadian oil. We've become the largest exporter of finished products and have gained massively in drilling our own oil. What's the big deal?

  • ||

    This precedes his mentioning China:

    ...environmental activists fondly hoped that blocking U.S. approval of the Keystone pipeline would force Canadian oil companies to keep the oilsands crude in the ground. Fat chance.
  • Sigivald||

    Most of the Canucks I know are freaked out about the Kitimat port thing.

    Not for, you know, good reasons, but because of the usual hippie fearmongering and ignorance.

    (Did you know there are islands in the sound that the port is in the back of? Tankers totally can't avoid hitting those! Someone said so! Here's a scary graphic showing a half-mile-wide tanker where an island really is! They lied and it's a bad idea because a graphic was wrong!!

    [Seriously. All over my Facebook feed. Damn it.]

    Nevermind that the channel there is far wider than the Columbia and 200 meters deep - far, far bigger than it needs to be to run a VLCC tanker up in compete safety. A graphic was scary, so it's BAD.

    Now, it may well be that it's a better idea - as Zeb says - to run a pipeline down South instead, but that's another matter.)

  • Copernicus||

    "Several State Department environmental analyses have found that the pipeline is sufficiently safe and would have only a minor effect on the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to man-made global warming."

    Fuck you Bailey. If you are going to embrace the global warming fraud, then anything that makes it easier for the human race to burn oil is bad bad bad.

    Don't you think "only a minor effect" on an global disaster, the edge upon which we are currently teetering is horribly frightening?

    Oh, did I mention, Fuck you Bailey?

  • Jackand Ace||

    Way to go indeed, Mr. President. Please hold firm.

  • Jackand Ace||

    The opposition to this pipeline is strong...in Canada. Many are fearful of oil spills (now where have we heard that before), as well as the fact that most of the oil will just be shipped to China.

    In addition, the opposition parties have said they will stop if they get elected.

    "Mr Mulcair and the leader of the Liberal party, Justin Trudeau, both said they would reverse the decision to approve the pipeline were they to take power at the next Canadian general election in October 2015."

    Even Canada isn't thrilled with a pipeline.

  • Jackand Ace||

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